Los Angeles Clippers star forward Kawhi Leonard played in back-to-back games for the first time since April 2017 and revealed that more of that can be expected going forward. Leonard, who played 37 minutes against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, played 35 minutes against the Golden State Warriors a night later.
Leonard scored a game-high 30 points in a shock home loss to the Clippers and scored 21 points in a win over the Warriors. "I mean, I think I'll be playing, pretty much," Leonard said when asked about playing in back-to-backs after the win over the Warriors.
"The last few years, I was injured, and I worked on getting my leg stronger, and it's been a long time. But I was patient, and I'm able to play." Leonard, who led the Toronto Raptors to winning their first NBA Championship in 2019, played his first back-to-back games as a member of the Clippers.
"Kawhi's first back-to-back, I know he got gassed, especially the first time out," Clippers head coach Ty Lue said.
Leonard felt no consequences
After playing in back-to-back games, Leonard was feeling physically fine.
"Kawhi's getting healthier," Lue added. "He said he felt great." Along with 21 points, Leonard also grabbed 4 rebounds and dished out 4 assists in a win over the Warriors. The Warriors had a run in the fourth quarter but Leonard took the ball in his hands and scored when it mattered most to prevent Golden State from making a comeback.
Leonard win the battle between him and two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry as the Warriors' star guard scored only 13 points. Curry, who scored a career-high 62 points against the Portland Trail Blazers over the weekend, was aiming to lead the Warriors to their third consecutive win but that didn't happen.
Before the Clippers game, Curry said teams still do their best effort to beat the Warriors. "100 percent," Curry said, when asked if the team's prepare to play their best when facing the Warriors. "And that's how it's supposed to be.
There are teams that were in the bubble, in the playoffs last year in both conferences that we're going to be doing that to them. So it's always the game within the game, and that competition's exciting knowing that there's a little bit more meaning based on what we did the last five years and other teams' experience playing against us. That's part of the journey. We love it."